Scripture: Genesis 45:1-15
The first verse of this passage begins with a portrait of Joseph weeping aloud. The last verse of this section ends with Joseph in tears. Joseph is one of my favorite characters in the Bible. He is destined to lead and save Israel, he is full of compassion and solid in character. He is truly a type of Jesus.
In this Lent season we need constant reminders of who Jesus is, and Joseph is that reminder in the story of Israel. Jesus is a servant leader of his people (Mark 10:45), Jesus saves (Luke 19:1), Jesus weeps (John 11:35), and He is compassionate (Mark 1:41). I want to draw special attention to a subtle and sublime aspect of both the Joseph and Jesus story.
Previous to chapter 45 of Genesis, Joseph’s identity is concealed from his brothers. Joseph knows his purpose and calling; sent ahead to preserve his brothers and all Israel, just as Jesus was (John 20:21). When he meets them, he puts them to the test, seeing what their character is made of. He gave them opportunities to lie, cheat and steal, at the same time, they were opportunities not to lie, cheat and steal. This is the first time Joseph reveals his true identity as their saviour, forgiver, brother and benefactor. There was specific timing and meaning to the concealing and revealing of his identity, just as with Jesus (John 2:24). When Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers, he reveals himself and initiates forgiveness. At one point in the Gospels, Jesus also reveals His true identity, and never more than at the cross, where He weeps for His brothers and initiates forgiveness, even though His brothers did evil toward him (Luke 23:34).
This is true vulnerability, which means exposing all and risking rejection. Jesus was rejected but secure in His Father’s love. In order to be vulnerable, you have to lay down your pride and thrive on humility. When Joseph and Jesus exposed themselves, they created a safe place for others to trust them. Jesus now invites us into His trust, asking us to do the same to others. If people sin against us, if they reject us, we are to forgive them and love them in return. This is easier said than done. Think about an example in your own family, whether a sibling has wronged you, or you feel hurt from your spouse. This is where the rubber of the gospel meets the road of life. The hurt feelings we have are real, but if we believe Jesus has swallowed up our death and given us life, then we swallow the death arrows flung at us in the death of Jesus, and give back to that person the forgiveness and love that we have in the life of Jesus. May we also be like Joseph and Jesus: humble, loving, compassionate and forgiving, even when others wrong us.
~Basil McLaren, Junction Covenant Church, Junction, BC